Among the most vibrant clusters of architectural neighbourhoods in India, the towns of Shekhawati have a distinct structural vocabulary blending Rajput and Islamic forms. But what characterizes this region as no other is its abundance of exuberantly painted havelis.
Part of the erstwhile Jaipur state, Shekhawati today comprises Jhunjhunu, Churu and Sikar districts in Rajasthan. This volume focuses on the region's heritage, left vulnerable by the waves of out-migration of the original community, to examine the challenges that face its survival.
The authors study the history of the region, the emergence of the Marwaris as a formidable financial power on the national map and their diaspora throughout the world while still maintaining strong ties with the homelands. They explore Shekhawati towns such as Ramgarh, Lachhmangarh, Fatehpur, Mandawa, Dhundlod and Churu vis-a-vis the colonial cities of India, studying the palatial homes of rich merchant families, sumptuously decorated with paintings or "Shekhawati collages" on a range of subjects, and the architectural typologies of havelis, joharas, mandirs, chhatris, dharamshalas, wells and forts. Also included are chapters on the architectural styles adopted by Marwaris who settled in Shahjahanabad and Hyderabad, and the pressing need for a conservation policy to preserve this legacy.
Abha Narain Lambah is a conservation architect. She has co-edited Custodians of the Past: 150 Years of the Archaeological Survey of India for the ASI (2012) and Architecture of the Indian Sultanates for Marg (2006). In 2006–07 she was consultant to the Rajasthan government for the regional development plan for Sikar district in Shekhawati.